Worried about managing a team when you’re the youngest member? Don’t be afraid. You can do this.
You were just promoted into a management position or asked to lead a project team — and you’re the youngest person in the group. Here’s what you need to know when it comes to managing people who are older or have more expertise than you.
Be confident in your skills. Don’t let other people’s comments negatively affect your performance. If you’ve been given a leadership position, there’s at least someone who believes you can do the job. So stop worrying about your age, dig deep for self-confidence and let any comments about your age roll off your back.
Value the expertise of others, but don’t shy away from being the leader. Get to know the people on your team so you can take advantage of each person’s knowledge and experience. But never forget that you’re the group’s leader — and that you must act accordingly.
Be a leader, but don’t overexert your authority. A good leader is part of the team and willingly participates; a bad boss expects the team to work for them. Avoid using the power of your management position or coercive power (threats of punishment) to get things done — this is a key sign of an insecure manager.
Be “real” with your team, and don’t claim expertise you don’t have. No one is an expert on every topic, so don’t try to pretend that you are. Most people appreciate honesty about strengths and weaknesses, so be willing to share yours with the team and encourage others to do the same.
Share your vision, but ask for input and feedback from others. You might be young, but that doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re doing. So share your vision for the team/department/group. Just don’t forget to solicit their advice and feedback. This will also help ensure buy-in to your plans.
Manage with compassion, but don’t be afraid to address issues. Being a compassionate manager doesn’t mean letting employees take advantage of you, simply because of your age. Compassion is also about holding others accountable for their life lessons when there are performance, behavior or ethical issues. Don’t shy away from conflicts. Address them immediately when they occur.
Use your HR department as your career development partner. Don’t feel like you have to go it alone. Most HR reps are excellent at connecting new managers with experienced mentors and helping them obtain training to learn people-management skills.